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CHELSEA, MA-Kevin Saba thought he had a good idea when he decided to develop a self-storage warehouse for his 1.5 acre site at 359 Beechum St. on the Islandend River about 10 miles out of Boston. But Saba didn’t count on the intensity with which local residents regard its shoreline or the fact that his land could fall under the jurisdiction of Chapter 91, which regulates development on the state’s coastal properties.

According to John Depriest, of the city’s conservation commission, Saba’s company, Development Marketing Group Chelsea One LLC filed a notice of intent with the city to develop the warehouse on this site, which formerly housed a boat storage facility and marina. But Depriest tells GlobeSt.com that local residents are frustrated by their limited access to the waterfront. Many of Chelsea’s waterfront is in a designated port area, which requires that its uses be water-related but much of that is industrial use, says Depriest. “Chelsea doesn’t have many parks along the water,” he notes.

But the project gets even more complicated than local opposition alone would make it. It is unclear if the site falls under Chapter 91 jurisdiction, which regulates areas that were once waterways. If it does, any development on the site would have to conform to chapter 91 regulations, including a certain amount of open space.

Roseanne Bongiovanni, project director for Chelsea Green Space, tells GlobeSt.com that her group is opposed to the development of the warehouse. “It basically is replacing an existing water-dependent use with a non-water-dependent use,” she explains. But, she says, Green Space is not necessarily fighting the proposal at this point as much as it is trying to work with the state Department of Environmental Protection to see of the site falls under chapter 91. “It is more difficult to develop something under that jurisdiction,” she says.

The DEP is currently in the process of determining the designation of this property. If it is decided that it does not fall under Chapter 91 jurisdiction, it won’t be the end of this story. “We will appeal that decision,” says Bongiovanni.

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